China doubts PNoy on 3-week standoff

MANILA, Philippines – China has expressed doubt over a recent statement by Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, as both sides remain caught in a 3-week standoff in the disputed Scarborough Shoal.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Weimin said the Philippines should “match its words with deeds” after Aquino said Manila is “geared towards de-escalating the situation.”

“We hope the Philippine side would act as it speaks and take concrete measures to stop provoking incidents in the area, so as to resume peace and stability around Huangyan Island,” Liu said.

The two countries should address the issue diplomatically, he added.

Ship pull-out

Based on previous statements, what exactly China wants is for the Philippines to pull out its vessels from the area. This is part of the Philippines' agreement with China “not (to) do anything to complicate or aggravate the situation,” according to the spokesperson of the Chinese embassy in the Philippines, Zhang Hua. 

The Philippines, for its part, has denied such an agreement. The Department of Foreign Affairs has then criticized the Chinese embassy in the Philippines for statements “contrary to reality.” 

While a word war ensues between the two countries, however, the Philippines still has no envoy to Beijing. The President has yet to name one after the ambassador he first appointed, Domingo Lee, withdrew his nomination.  

Criticized for his lack of basic knowledge on diplomacy, Lee said the Philippines cannot afford his “protracted nomination process” amid the ongoing standoff with China.

'Clash of interests'

When will the territorial disputes between the two countries end?

Top diplomat Rodolfo Severino does not see its resolution any time soon, with a “genuine clash of interests” existing between the Philippines and China.

Meanwhile, Severino said, both sides “could reiterate their commitment in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea 'to resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful (means).'” – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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